News Archive

(1108) Week of Mar. 12, 2008

More games to be played on lighted softball fields
Referendum to decide District One Building program
WP Council members get message loud and clear  - that citizens want police protection
WP Property cleanup cost can be added to tax bill
Barrett presents flag to West Pelzer Fire
Cheddar man arrested in undercover internet sting
Chiquola Club incident results in disorderly arrest
Pelzer man charged in pedestrian death
School improvements and estimated costs
Polling places for District One school referendum
Project list far exceeds projected sales tax revenue
Deputies investigate roofing nails in driveway
Seems to Me . . . The balance sheet

More games to be played on lighted softball fields

If you are one of the thousands of people who enjoy playing baseball and softball on local ball fields or watching the games or enjoying either of the two parks in Williamston, a check presented by South Carolina State Senator Billy O’Dell will go a long way toward improvements at these facilities.

Sen. O’Dell presented a check for $165,000 which was obtained with the assistance of House District 10 Representative Dan Cooper. The funding will be used for a variety of tourism and recreation related projects in the Williamston area. The funds were made available from the SC Parks Recreation and Tourism budget.

The bulk of the money, approximately $113,000, will go toward installing lights on the girls softball field and the PeeWee field at the location behind the Town Hall.

An additional $11,200 is slated for putting sod on the girls softball field; $8000 for renovations on the Scout Hut; $11,000 to reimburse monies spent by the Mission Jerusalem project on Mineral Spring Park improvements in recent months; and $11,800 to resurface and stripe two basketball courts.

Approximately $10,000 will go to the replacement of a drain pipe that runs the length of the park, along the railroad track.

“I am glad to be able to get this in the budget,” Sen. O’Dell said. 

“This area has a lot of need and the historic park is important to the people of Williamston. When we get it upgraded, it will help promote additional tourism in the area.”

O’Dell said that promoting the towns of Williamston, Belton, and Honea Path along the Heritage Corridor could help bring additional tourism to the area.

He also said he will continue to work toward bringing new jobs to the area.

Plans for Mineral Spring Park include reroofing a restroom building, placing end pieces on shelters and other improvements.

In Brookdale Park, planned improvements include roofing on a shelter, painting and some work on the basketball courts.

Williamston Parks and Recreation Director Dale Martin said there has been a need for additional lighting on the ball fields for some time.

Local teams playing with the Anderson County softball leagueoften have to play in Anderson.

The lighting will allow more games to be played in Williamston he said.

Referendum to decide District One Building program

Anderson School District One officials are hoping the public says no to portables and yes to a building program when they go to the polls Tuesday to vote on a bond referendum for the growing district.

The referendum will provide funding for a District wide building program that includes renovations and additions to all District One schools and includes building a new Powdersville High School.

If approved it will also allow the District to add classroom space, upgrade current facilities, enhance technology, and improve security.

Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler said District One representatives have made more than 75 presentations in recent weeks in the community to school groups, clubs, organizations and churches, “to anyone who invites us,” about the building program.

“We are getting good positive feedback from the community,” Dr. Fowler said. “They understand the need.”

School officials have said that without it there will be portables, those unsightly trailer like buildings temporarily staged around the permanent structures.

Even before construction can begin, there is already the need for more space, that is more portables.

Dr. Fowler said that the District is expecting approximately 300 new students next year and will add 14 new teachers to teach them.

That trend will continue and with it the need for additional classroom space to house those students.

Current enrollment is 9,200, with an annual increase of 3 to 3.5 percent over the last 10 years.  Ten portable classrooms are already in place, and a number of teachers are without assigned classrooms.

Dr. Fowler said the public has been very supportive in the past in meeting the needs of the district and he believes they will continue to do so.

“No one wants their taxes to go up, but most do not want the children or grandchildren educated in a portable.”

“Many of our schools are operating well above their intended capacity,” Dr. Fowler says. “Book rooms, hallways, conference rooms and even school stages are being used for instruction and programs. Couple that with the fact that we’re projecting an increase of 1,500 to 1,700 students over the next five years. It is imperative that we act now to ensure that we continue our tradition of excellence in Anderson One.”

Dr. Fowler said the plan will meet the needs of the growing District for about five years, from 2008 to 2013.

“We are real hopeful the vote will turn out positive.”

 

COST ESTIMATES

Preliminary total cost for the building program is estimated at $85.75 million. 

Estimated costs for the proposed additions and improvements to the rest of the District One schools are as follows:

Concrete Primary, $3,750,000; Cedar Grove Elementary, $2,670,000; Hunt Meadows Elementary, $100,000; Palmetto Elementary $2,810,000; Pelzer Elementary $200,000; Powdersville Elementary $100,000; Spearman Elementary, $4,550,000; West Pelzer Elementary $100,000; and Wren Elementary, $3,960,000.

Palmetto Middle, $4,760,000; Powdersville Middle, $2,220,000; Wren Middle, $3,960,000.

Palmetto High improvements are estimated at $4,150,000 and Wren High is estimated at $2,260,000 or $6,420,000, depending on whether a new high school is included.

A new Powdersville high school is estimated to cost $49,560,000. 

A complete list of details on the planned improvements and additions to each school is available online at www.thejournalonline.com.

HOMEOWNER COST

According to information provided to the District, the proposal will cost the owner of a $75,000 home $52.50 per year additional taxes or 14 cents per day.

The owner of a $100,000 home will see an additional $70 per year.

On a $125,000 home, the increase will be $87.50 and on a $150,000 home, the increase will be $105 officials said.

ESTIMATES HIGH?

The cost estimates provided to the District and being presented in the referendum were obtained from Kahn Management Group, which has provided building construction and renovation cost estimates to District One over the past 16 years.

“They guarantee their estimates to be at or under budget,” Dr. Fowler said. “We have not had any problem coming in at or under budget on past estimates they have provided.”

Dr. Fowler said that building costs have skyrocketed over the last four years, and they are not expected to come down.

Gasoline and steel are two of the primary costs that have increased. Those and others have resulted in increases on everything from materials to delivery, he said.

Dr. Fowler said that the construction codes for schools are held to a state level. One example is being earthquake proof, resulting in steel plates being required over doorways.

Compared to other building programs, Dr. Fowler said nearby Woodmont High in Greenville cost approximatly $50 million while four new high schools in Pickens County are costing approximately $340 million.

NEW POWDERSVILLE HIGH SCHOOL

If the referendum is approved Tuesday, a new high school will be built on property the District already owns next to Powdersville Elementary school on Hood Road.

The new high school will be a 2A size school designed for 800 students, according to Dr. Fowler.

Dr. Fowler said by the time the new school is finished, Wren High School, currently at 1700 students, will be at approximately 1800 students.

If approved, design and construction will take about three years. Students attending Powdersville Elementary and Middle schools will feed into the new high school.

According to Dr. Fowler, 8th graders at Powdersville Middle will be the 9th graders at the new high school. There will not be mandatory attendance lines, following the current District wide policy that is in place, allowing students from across the District to attend a school if there is space available.

WP Council members get message loud and clear that citizens want police protection

By Stan Welch 

 West Pelzer Mayor Peggy Paxton’s decision to hold the March Town Council meeting at the fire house instead of Town Hall was proved correct Monday night, as approximately 150 people crowded the fire house bays.

They were there to let the Council know how they felt about recent efforts to abolish the town’s police department, and they certainly did that. So clearly did they make themselves heard that Councilman Joe Turner, who originally spearheaded the effort could not get a second for his motion to give first reading approval to the proposed ordinance.

The crowd exploded into applause at the Mayor’s words, “The motion dies from lack of a second. It’s over.” A standing ovation was followed by demands from the crowd that Turner, along with Councilmen Jimmy Jeanes and Marshall King explain their reasons for pursuing the dissolution of the department in the first place.

Jeanes, who called Ms. Ann Odom a liar while she was speaking against the proposal, promised to provide reasons before the night was over. “You haven’t told them the rest of it,” said  Jeanes who responded to Odom’s claims that he had refused to explain those reasons in a phone call between them earlier. “The rest of it is in this briefcase, and I’ll be glad to show it to you when it’s my turn.”

Jeanes’ remarks to Odom drew an angry reaction from the crowd, including Richard Black, who had spoken earlier in support of the police. “Mr. Jeanes, if you call another of these women who are speaking a liar, you will be held responsible for it tonight,” said Black.

Turner also promised that a prepared statement would be read later. 

The controversy began at the February Council meeting when Turner, with no advance warning, made a motion to abolish the police department and give the officers 24 hours to turn in their gear. King and Jeanes provided the necessary votes and within less than three minutes, the department was dismantled. Or so the three Councilmen thought.

As it turns out, the department was originally established by ordinance and can only be dissolved by the same process. That process requires two readings and approvals of the ordinance, without a public hearing, rather than three readings and a public hearing , as is required to approve an ordinance at the County level. The process was mistakenly reported in The Journal following the original vote.

Mayor Paxton, stung and surprised by the move at the February meeting, organized a town meeting at which more than a hundred people appeared and again expressed overwhelming support for the Town retaining their own department, rather than turn over the law enforcement to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, as Turner proposed.

The three man majority of Council did not attend that meeting, which further angered many citizens, several dozen of whom signed petitions calling for the resignations of the three members. Marnie Schwartz presented those petitions, as well as others bearing approximately four hundred signatures demanding that the department remain intact.

Swartz also spoke to Council, saying that she was the victim of an attempted rape at the Laundromat in town and was unlucky enough to have it occur on a Saturday, after Council had directed the police to quit working on weekends. “It took the County 45 minutes to respond.”

She added, “I thought the only people who didn’t want the police around were criminals.”

The issue of slow response times by ACSO came up several times, including from Lee Blakeslee, a former West Pelzer policeman who left the department in November of 2005 to go to work for the Sheriff’s department. “When I left here, response times for WPPD were five to ten minutes. At the Sheriff’s, they run from one to two hours, and that’s guaranteed. A lot of times there are only eight deputies, not counting supervisors, on a shift. That’s to cover the whole county. If you take this department away, you’re making a big mistake.”

Approximately two dozen citizens spoke while the rest applauded and cheered loudly.  A number of comments were shouted from the crowd, as well.

Jim Crothers spoke, saying that he had lived in several countries around the world. “Wherever there is no law, peacekeepers end up coming in. If there are problems with the police force, get a new one. But don’t abolish the department. You wouldn’t dare have fire protection or EMS twenty minutes away. Why would you consider it for police protection?”

After nearly an hour of public comment, the session ended. 

Councilman Mike Moran proposed an ordinance that would require a public referendum in order to abolish any municipal department, and which would also prevent the use of budget restrictions to get rid of a department without referendum. (See related story elsewhere in this issue.)

Following that proposal, the ordinance to abolish the police department was next on the agenda. Councilman Turner moved for first reading approval, but his earlier support failed to provide a second for the motion, and the ordinance died. The result was greeted by an uproar and a standing ovation from the crowd.

Councilman Moran, who conferred briefly with Turner while the crowd celebrated, then moved quickly to adjourn.

The crowd protested loudly, demanding to see the evidence Jeanes and Turner had mentioned earlier in the evening. Under Roberts’ Rules of Order, however, a motion to adjourn requires an immediate vote without discussion. The motion to adjourn was approved and the meeting ended.

The three Council members who originally voted to abolish the department refused to speak to the media and left quickly. The crowd, flushed with its victory, lingered for some time, mingling and exchanging comments and remarks.

WP property cleanup cost can be added to tax bill

By Stan Welch

In addition to the lively business of restoring the police department and taking preliminary steps to ensure its future, The West Pelzer Town Council also conducted other business at Monday night’s meeting.

A discussion of a possible ISTEA grant for the beautification of the downtown area took place. The grant, which comes from the federal level, but is distributed by the SCDOT, would require a ten per cent match to obtain the $200,000 grant. That would amount to $20,000. In order to apply for the grant, a design and landscaping plan would have to be commissioned, at a cost of $3000-$5000.

Two years ago, the Council at that time refused to appropriate $3800 for such a plan, choosing not to pursue the $200,000 grant. Both Williamston and Pelzer have received such grants in recent years. Williamston is currently about to begin work on its Streetscape.

Council, after some discussion, unanimously approved the expenditure for the preliminary plan.

The Council also gave second reading approval to amendments to Ordinance 5.201, to allow the Town to recoup the costs incurred in enforcing town ordinances about condemned property. The Town would be able to address any condemned properties by actions such as razing buildings or clearing lots that have become overgrown. The County would condemn the properties, but the Town would be the agent of addressing the problems.

The amendments would allow the Town to add the costs, if not paid within 30 days, to the property taxes on the location, as well as any and all costs of publishing notice of the property’s sale, if the taxes go unpaid. “If we don’t do this, the County will hold us responsible for the costs and the Town would have to pay them,” said Councilman Mike Moran.

Council also gave first reading approval to a proposed ordinance by Moran that would require a public referendum in order to dissolve any department of the Town government, whether police, water, sewer or whatever. The proposed ordinance would also prohibit the use of budgetary restrictions to effectively remove a department.

Town Attorney Carey Murphy, who saw the ordinance for the first time Monday night, had several issues with the language, but said he would have the needed changes made by the next Council meeting. Surprisingly. Councilman Turner, who led the recent efforts to abolish the police department, provided the third vote needed to give first reading approval to Moran’s proposal.

Barrett presents flag to West Pelzer Fire

By Stan Welch

Congressman Gresham Barrett stopped by the West Pelzer Fire Department Friday to present the department with an American flag to replace the worn and tattered one which had been flying over the department.

“We were through here a while back and I noticed the flag looked pretty well used. So I thought we would bring this one by and give to you fellows,” said Barrett, who recently returned from Iraq.

He shared his views of the war in Iraq with the dozen or so firefighters who were on hand. “We are winning that war men,” he said. “A year ago, in Fallujah, in Al Anbar province, Al Qaeda beheaded six Iraqi police officers in the street. This last time I was there, I stood on that very spot and felt completely secure. Our troops are doing a great job over there, and as long as we don’t leave them hanging, they will get that job done.”

He also told the group about three soldiers he met over there who were volunteer firefighters back in the States. “You guys hold the line here and they hold it over there. Either way, it’s the front line troops that respond first. We appreciate what you guys do and we appreciate what our soldiers do over there.”

Cheddar man arrested in undercover internet sting

A Belton man arrested as the result of an undercover sting operation Tuesday morning, March 11, remained in custody that afternoon, on a $10,000 surety bond.

Robert Weston Gregory, a 28 year old white male, was arrested Tuesday by Anderson County Sheriff’s Department personnel, as part of an undercover operation designed to find and capture internet predators. The Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, headed by State Attorney General Henry McMaster, has now arrested 115 suspected predators.

According to a press release issued through the ACSO, the warrants against Gregory alleged that on Monday, March 10, he solicited sex from a person he thought was a 13 year old girl. Instead, it was an undercover officer from the Sheriff’s department.

Gregory, of 208 Eastland Drive, in Belton, was charged with criminal solicitation of a minor, which could result in up to ten years in prison; attempted criminal sexual conduct (possible 20 years); and was expected to be charged with dissemination of obscene material.

Chiquola Club incident results in disorderly arrest

By Stan Welch

As a controversy continues over the use of credit cards by County employees to buy high priced meals and entertain lavishly, often in the name of economic development, the arrest of the spouse of the County’s director of economic development after a drunken fight on city streets has again raised questions of impropriety.

According to an incident report obtained from the Anderson City Police Department, on March 2, Terry Allen Jones, Jr., husband of Anderson County Economic Development Director Heather Jones, and himself a County employee in the Emergency Service Division, was arrested in front of the Chiquola Club after being involved in a fist fight.

Just after midnight, officers were dispatched to the recently renovated building on a fight call, according to the report. Upon arriving, Jones was found on the sidewalk screaming at a woman at the top of the steps into the club. She was later identified as his wife, according to the report.

Jones, WM, 38, 5’10", 170 pounds, brn/blue, refused to provide identification and was very belligerent and uncooperative, according to the officers. The other subject, Floyd Simpson Mills, III, WM, 29, 6’2", 180 pounds, brn/blue was reportedly too drunk to get his identification out of his wallet and gave the wallet to the officer to retrieve it himself. Jones refused to provide his ID, saying, “I’m not giving you a damn thing,” according to the report.

He said he would not talk until he spoke to Mills, whom he said was his lawyer. Mills confirmed that.

Jones was subsequently arrested for disorderly conduct and transported approximately four blocks to the Anderson City jail. Mills, who was allowed to leave in a cab because he was cooperative, also went to the jail to speak to his client. He was unable to pay the cabbie, who said Mills could not operate the ATM machine at his bank to obtain any cash. The driver declined to press charges. Mills however was charged with public intoxication.

The third party, who actually was involved in the fight with Jones, according to witnesses, was never identified by police.

The incident lends credence to the recent questions raised by the media, the public and two members of the County Council concerning the profligate use of County credit cards to entertain and travel. County Administrator Joey Preston has declined to provide a thorough accounting of those expenses, which amount to tens of thousands of dollars a year. He says that such expenditures must be kept confidential as part of the economic development strategy of the County. “We don’t want everybody knowing what we’re doing or who we’re talking to,” Preston has been quoted as saying.

County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson and Councilman Bob Waldrep have been persistent in their demands to see the receipts and other documentation for the credit cards, which have been used to buy expensive meals, to entertain in bars both in Anderson and across the state, and to send various staff members and Council members on junkets in the name of economic development.

Wilson has consistently questioned Councilman Bill McAbee’s use of the cards to pay for trips taken by him and his appointee to the economic development board.

The Chiquola Club itself has sparked some controversy, most notably by issuing membership cards to various County staff members and County Council members. Last year, when he was still Chairman of the Council, Bob Waldrep publicly rejected the card issued to him, saying in an open meeting of the Council that he considered the card a gift far in excess of limits allowed by state ethics regulations.

Published reports indicate that the cost of the annual membership in the Chiquola Club is five thousand dollars, with a monthly minimum expenditure of an additional four hundred dollars. Whether Heather and Terry Jones used a County card to get in the Chiquola on the night of the incident is unknown.

How many cards were issued and to whom has not been revealed.

Pelzer man charged in pedestrian death

Kenneth Warren Hufflin, 23, of 11 Drake St., Pelzer, was charged by the South Carolina Highway Patrol in connection with the death of  a pedestrian on Shockley Ferry Road in Anderson last Tuesday. Hufflin was charged with one count each of illegal carrying of an open container, driving too fast for conditions and unlawful carrying of a pistol according to the Sheriff’s office. Richard Bruce Jenkins, 49, of 502 Caughlin Ave. was struck by a truck as he walked along Shockley Ferry Road in front of the Bi-Lo store around 7:35 p.m. Anderson County Coroner Greg Shore said. Hufflin was driving a Dodge Ram 2500 pickup which struck Jenkins, officials said.

School improvements and estimated costs

The District’s nine elementary schools have varied needs including classrooms and new front entrances to improve safety.

Cedar Grove Elementary needs two kindergarten classrooms, five other classrooms, a bookroom/storageroom and a new front entrance with additional office space to accommodate a larger school and to ensure safety. Estimated cost $2.67 million.

Palmetto Elementary needs two kindergarten classrooms, six classrooms, workroom/bookroom and new front entrance. Estimated cost $2.81 million.

Wren Elementary needs two kindergarten classrooms, 8 other classrooms, an office for the assistant principal, storage/book room, a new front entrance and a bus circle at the side of the building. Estimated cost $3.96 million.

Pelzer Elementary needs repair to exterior and interior of the Pelzer Auditorium and repair plaster on the interior of the school. Estimated cost $200,000.

Spearman Elementary needs include replace restrooms on the grade 3-5 wing, two kindergarten classrooms, six other classrooms and expand kitchen and cafeteria. Estimated cost $4.55 million.

Concrete Elementary needs two kindergarten classrooms, 8 classrooms, storage/bookroom, assistant principal’s office and remodel kitchen and cafeteria. Estimated cost $3.75 million.

Hunt Meadows and West Pelzer Elementary schools are sufficient to meet expected growth for now, however estimated improvements needed are $100,000 each.

All elementary schools in the District need upgraded security systems including digital cameras, call back features for P.A. systems and keyless entry for exterior doors.

Wren Middle and Palmetto Middle Schools will each need eight new classroooms in addition to remodeling buildings with new wiring, plumbing, painting and new exterior doors. Estimated cost $4.76 million for Palmetto and $4.56 million for Wren.

Powdersville Middle will need eight new classrooms, estimated cost $2.22 million.

All three middle schools need upgraded security systems including digital cameras, call back features for P. A. systems and keyless entry for exterior doors.

Palmetto and Wren High Schools each have different needs to meet expected growth.

Palmetto High will need six classrooms and expansion of the cafeteria. Athletic needs include expanding the field house, remodel old field house and add bleachers for girls softball and boys baseball. Estimated cost $4.15 million.

Wren High will need 16 new classrooms. Options include an addition on site or a new Freshman Academy on a site near the school (for 700 students).  Another alternative would be a new high school (900 students).

Wren athletic needs include a new track and a multipurpose athletic facility for all sports plus restrooms. Estimated cost $2.26 million.

Both high schools need upgraded security systems including digital cameras, call back features for P. A. systems and keyless entry for exterior doors.

A new Powdersville High School is estimated at $49.56 million.

Polling places for District One school referendum

*BeltonCedar Grove Elementary School107 Melvin Lane  Williamston, SC 29697 Front Foyer

Bowling GreenWhitefield Fire Station4000 Highway 29 N.  Belton, SC 29627

*BroadwayWhitefield Fire Station4000 Highway 29 N.  Belton, SC 29627

Brushy CreekWren Middle School1010 Wren School Road  Piedmont, SC 29673Gymnasium

Cedar GroveCedar Grove Elementary School107 Melvin Lane  Williamston, SC 29697Front Foyer

ConcreteConcrete Primary School535 Powdersville Main  Easley, SC 29642Multi-Purpose Room (voters will enter and exit through multi-purpose room doors)

*Hammond SchoolT. L. Hanna High School2600 Highway 81 N.  Anderson, SC 29621

HopewellT. L. Hanna High School2600 Highway 81 N.  Anderson, SC 29621

PelzerPelzer Community Center25 Pelzer Park Street  Pelzer, SC 29669

PiedmontPiedmont Presbyterian Church4 Academy Street  Piedmont, SC 29673

PiercetownPiercetown Fire Station5150 Highway 81 N  Williamston, SC 29697

SimpsonvilleShiloh United Methodist Church135 Reid Bagwell Lane  Piedmont, SC 29673

Three & TwentyThree & Twenty Fire Station1301 Three & Twenty Road  Easley, SC 29642

Toney CreekShady Grove Baptist Church Social Hall1201 Shady Grove Road  Belton, SC 29627

West PelzerWest Pelzer Elementary School10 W. Stewart Street  West Pelzer, SC 29669Cafeteria

White PlainsWhite Plains Community Center7431 Midway Road  Pelzer, SC 29669

WilliamstonPalmetto Middle School803 N. Hamilton Street  Williamston, SC 29697Auditorium

Williamston MillCalvary Baptist Church10 S. Academy Street  Williamston, SC 29697

Mt. AiryMt. Airy Baptist Church210 Mt. Airy Church Road  Easley, SC 29642

PowdersvillePowdersville Middle School135 Hood Road  Greenville, SC 29611Media Center (Enter building at the flagpole doors)

Hunt MeadowsHunt Meadows Elementary School420 Hunt Road  Easley, SC 29642Multi-Purpose Room

Absentee VotingRegistration and Elections107 S. Main Street, Suite 105Anderson, SC 29624

Project list far exceeds projected sales tax revenue

By Stan Welch

 The full Capital Project Sales Tax Commission met last Thursday, and heard from SCDOT officials about the state’s feelings on the list of Anderson County projects to potentially be funded by the sales tax.

In the first meeting including all members of the commission, they learned that their efforts to obtain public input as to what kinds of projects should be considered were successful beyond their wildest dreams, and far beyond their budget.

Anderson County Transportation Director Holt Hopkins informed the Commissioners that his department, based on the public input received, had already compiled a list of projects that would cost $600 million to construct.

If adopted by referendum in November, the tax would generate approximately one fourth of that amount, or $148 million, over its seven year life.

“The Commission clearly has a big job ahead of it,” said Hopkins. “It is going to be a real challenge to prioritize these projects while trying to make sure all parts of the County feel that they are being served too.”

The South Carolina DOT presented a number of projects in which it has an interest in seeing implemented. At the top of their list, and the only new construction offered, was the East/West connector, which would link Highway 81 and Clemson Boulevard.

The cost of the project as currently designed would be approximately $15 million. But to expand the design from a three lane road to a five lane road would cost approximately an additional fifteen per cent. SCDOT officials assured the Commission that sufficient rights of way have been obtained to allow for the widening.

“We would certainly prefer to see it built as a five lane road, given the current and anticipated growth in that area,” said Bobby Patterson, district engineer for SCDOT. “To go ahead and do it now will save time and money, since it will almost certainly have to be done sooner or later anyway.”

Maurice McKenzie, representing the City of Anderson added that six million dollars had already been invested in purchasing rights of way and engineering costs for the connector. “It would seem wasteful to let that get away,” he said.

The City also proposed intersection improvements at the Concord Rd./King’s Rd./Reed Rd. intersection, as well as at the N. Main St./Boulevard/North Ave. intersection. Several resurfacing projects were also on the City’s wish list.

The other SCDOT projects involve intersection improvements on a number of roads, several of which are in the Journal’s coverage area. The intersection at Hwy. 8 and Three & Twenty Rd/St. Paul Rd. would have turn lanes constructed and a traffic signal installed. SC Hwy. 20 at U.S. 76/178 in Belton would have a left turn lane added.

In the Powdersville area, a project to realign the intersection at Three Bridges Road and Mt. Airy Church Rd. would also include turn lanes. The intersection of Three Bridges Road and Powdersville Main (SR-52) would also be realigned. In Pelzer, where Highways 8 and 20 intersect, the fifth of the five points in the intersection would be removed and turn lanes and road radii improvements would be made.

Highway 81 is recommended for widening to five lanes from Hwy. 153 to the Greenville County line, with the fifth lane being a paved median lane. Highway 153 from I-85 to beyond Hwy. 81 would be widened in accordance with GPATS long range plan. Costs for the various projects were not available at press time.

The Town of Belton also listed projects totaling $2.55 million, including a million dollar recreational facility, as well as bridge work to be done on Blake Dairy Road, with the county sharing the expense, and the construction of a high pressure water line from the intersection of East Calhoun and Blake Dairy Road. The town also requested an 8" water main out West Road to reconnect with the current pipeline at the Middle School on Cherokee Rd. Total cost for those projects would be $750,000. There are legal questions concerning whether the funds generated by the sales tax can be used to construct water lines, but they are expected to be answered shortly.

Williamston has provided a lengthy and prioritized list of projects, and Pelzer and West Pelzer have requested funding for sewer improvements. 

CPST Commission member Rusty Burns reported that the Commission decided to ask each Mayor or town’s representative to again appear before the Commission to state their requests. “This list is a long way from being final,” said Burns. “The more public input we get, the better we can set our priorities.”

Deputies investigate roofing nails in driveway

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated numerous roofing nails apparenly dumped in a driveway in West Pelzer that caused flats on several vehicles. This and other incidents were recently investigated including the following:

W.B. Simpson responded to 25 Spring St. in the city limits of West Pelzer on March 7 where Town Councilman Jimmy Jeanes reported that someone had poured a box of roofing nails onto his driveway, resulting in flat tires on three of his vehicles. He said that he thought it had been done because of trouble the Council was having concerning the town police department.

PELZER

March 4 –M.D. Campbell responded to 6 Finley St. Gary Murphy reported the theft of the air conditioning unit from his 1972 Dodge Sportsman camper. Also stolen was SC tag # 244 SVT.

March 5 – M. T. Szymanski responded to 875 Hwy. 20 where Jannette Duckworth reported the theft of two marble flower pots and two stepping stones from the graves of her husband and son. The police report does not indicate the name of the cemetery.

EASLEY

March 4 – L. Finley responded to 325 E. Church Rd. where Joseph Freeman Sr. was found to have a severe laceration to his left hand. He stated that Donetta Harris had cut him with a kitchen knife. Harris, WF, 42, 5’7", 130 pounds, blond/blue was charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature and transported to ACDC.

March  8- T.B. Dugan was dispatched to 210 Crestwood Court to make contact with Denis Moore, WM,50, 5’10", 160 pounds, due to an active warrant for him on a charge of assault and battery. Dugan took Moore into custody and transferred him to Officer Murray of the Easley Police Department without incident.

March 7 – C. Whitfield was dispatched to 454 Looper Rd. in response to a request for a check on the well being of someone at that address. Tina Duncan, of 3901 Highway 29 N, made the request in reference to a possible assault on her daughter at the Looper Rd. location.. Emily Duncan, 17, said that she was assaulted by her father following an argument over her use of a cell phone. According to her, her father, Samuel Duncan, WM, 42, 5’10", 185 pounds, brn/brn struck her several times with a wooden back scratcher as well as choking her.

 Samuel Duncan said he did strike her with the wooden back scratcher but only pushed her when he thought she was going to hit him. He was arrested for assault and battery and transported to ACDC.

March 8 – M.J. McClatchy was dispatched to 110 Hwy. 20 S to the SavWay where the clerk reported that a white male, 20-25 years old, 5’11", with dark hair came in and gave her a credit card, saying he was going to fill up his truck. He pumped $43 worth of fuel and left the station. The card was denied when the clerk tried to run it.

March 9 – C. Whitfield responded to 23 Goodrich St. where Connie Smith said she and her brother Robert Smith had gotten into a fight, and he had choked her after she pushed him. Robert Smith was no longer at the scene and could not be located. No arrests were made.

PIEDMONT

March 4 – K.D. Pigman was dispatched to 205 Cedar Dr. where Roy Stokes Jr. reported that someone had broken into a vacant residence he owned at the Cedar Dr. location. His neighbors called and said a truck had left there with a bed in the back, and the neighbor was following the truck. The truck drove into Greenville County. The loss was estimated at $800.

March 7 – K.D. Pigman responded to 2531 River Rd. where David Witter reported the theft of some power tools from his rented storage warehouse at that location.

March 8 – P.D. Marter responded to 413 Beech Island Dr. where four small grass fires had broken out. Two white juveniles were seen in the area just before that. The fires broke out behind the Heritage Trace apartments. The Powdersville  Fire Department put the fires out and deemed the fires suspicious.

March 8 – B.C. Kelley was dispatched to the SavWay on Highway 86, where the clerk reported that a white female in a gold Chevy Cavalier had driven off without paying for $58.73

March 8 – M.D. Campbell was dispatched to 205 Iler St. to Davis Steel Dies, Inc. where the owner Bill Davis reported the theft of a number of spare parts for a master gluer machine in his shop. The parts were valued at $11,000.

March 9 – P.D. Marter received a report from Brad Buchanan that his 2003 Dodge pickup truck taken from the corner of Iler St. and Prospect St. The truck was valued at $14,000.

WILLIAMSTON

March 4 – M.D. Campbell responded to 140 Webb Rd. to BB&T Repo, where Michael Hawkins reported that someone had stolen two motorcycles, a 2003 Yamaha and a 2004 Independence Freedom motorcycle. The loss was estimated at $18,000.

March 6 – J.J. Jacobs observed a Ford station wagon traveling south on Hwy. 29 without a license plate light. Reports state he stopped the vehicle and found the passenger, Frank Annese, WM, 26, 6’, 160 pounds, of Anderson, in possession of marijuana. He was also served with an outstanding bench warrant for driving without a license. He was arrested and transported to ACDC.

March 7 – P.D. Marter was dispatched to 305 McAllister Rd. where Rachel Witrago reported that her husband, Pedro Bernal had assaulted her. She said he punched her and pulled her hair. Marter then drove to 107 Kirsch Drive to talk to Bernal, who was highly intoxicated and uncooperative. He was placed under arrest for criminal domestic violence. Subsequent to his arrest, it was discovered that he had outstanding warrants for traffic offenses in both Anderson and Greenville Counties. He was transported to ACDC.

March 7 – C. Whitfield responded to 557 Willingham Rd. where Arnold Whitmore stated that a blue four door car pulled into his driveway and a white male got out and started yelling for someone to come out of the house. Whitmore went outside and the subject said he wanted to see Whitmore’s nephew. Whitmore said his nephew wasn’t there and the man began to cuss and threaten him. Whitmore picked up a bat from the porch and started down the driveway, whereupon the subject pulled a handgun out and pointed it at Whitmore. He then left.

March 9 – K.D. Pigman responded to Pinewood Dr. in response to a report of a heated argument involving several people. Following an investigation into the fight that had resulted, the following people were arrested on breach of peace charges and transported to ACDC: Michael Semones, Glenn Wilson, and two juveniles, who were transported to the Juvenile Detention Center in Liberty.

 

Seems to Me . . . The balance sheet

By Stan Welch

 When does a plus become a minus, an asset a liability? When does one fly in the ointment become such a distraction, such a contamination that no one of a reasonable mind can ignore it any longer?

There are a few facts that need to be stated for the purpose of discussion. They are facts, as I see them, anyway. Some may choose to argue, and to some minor, neutrally agreed upon extent, some of these facts can be argued with.

Some cannot. 

First and foremost among those facts which are indisputable is the fact that the roads in Anderson County are atrocious. They are beyond being a liability to the county; they are in many cases a danger. They are what is quaintly called farm to market roads. Such a bucolic and colorful term, don’t you think? What it really means of course is that the roads wander aimlessly, like a cow turned loose in pasture, with no engineering, no direction, no sensible purpose to their wanderings.

They top hills and make ninety degree turns without reason or rhyme. They curve back and forth upon themselves, writhing like a snake hit by a car. They cant in such ways as to funnel traffic off the road and onto the shoulder, where there are shoulders, rather than being engineered so as to actually assist in safe driving.

They come to five and six pointed intersections that only wandering livestock could have conjured. They create death traps and they spring those traps with lethal regularity. The only wonder is that more people don’t die on Anderson County’s roads each year.

 And it isn’t just the country roads or the two lanes. Highways which traverse large segments of Anderson County highways with four and five lanes, are just as atrocious and in disrepair.

We hear over and over about the reasons why Anderson County just can’t seem to consistently attract and retain serious economic development. One reason, and not a minor one, is the condition of the roads in this County. In a conservative county where one often hears that government should do for the people only what they cannot do for themselves, roads are consistently at the top of that list of things. And the County fails miserably at that task.

Potential investors don’t miss that fact. They have minimal expectations of the County they spend tens of hundreds of millions of dollars in. Among those expectations is decent roads, and all the tax giveaways in the world don’t make up for a failure to meet those standards. Companies can generally afford to pay their own taxes. Very few can afford to build their own roads.

That the county is failing in building and maintaining roads is an indisputable fact, acknowledged even by the head of the county transportation department. “We fall behind by about five million dollars in what should be done each year,” said Holt Hopkins at a meeting of the Capital Project Sales Tax Commission last week.

That statement brings us to another indisputable fact. There is no more effective and equitable way to fund significant infrastructure improvements than the proposed one cent sales tax.

The sales tax does not apply to groceries, so the poor are not unevenly penalized. The sales tax relieves pressure on property taxes, and requires those who do not own property to help pay for the roads anyway. In order to generate the same annual revenue for road work that the sales tax would generate, the millage in Anderson County would have to go up 40 mills. That’s right. I said 40 mills.

Forty per cent of the revenues generated by the sales tax would come from those outside the county, who either work here or pass through or visit for a weekend. Forty per cent. If a stranger came up and offered to pay forty per cent of your property taxes this year, would you tear up the check?

Some die hard skeptics and paranoid patriots insist that the tax will never be removed once put in place. 

Hogwash.

There is not a single instance in the state where this sales tax has been imposed and then not allowed to expire when its shelf life was over. York County passed it twice, back to back. The first time it squeaked past by a few hundred votes. Seven years later, when people could see the results, they overwhelmingly imposed the tax on themselves again. Think their roads might be a little better than Anderson County’s? Think they’re attracting a little more economic development?

As I have often said, people are less opposed to additional taxes if they can see concrete results that they are getting what they paid for.

That brings us to one more indisputable fact. 

The largest single impediment to this tax being approved at a referendum next November, aside from the fact that the County Council will almost certainly lack the courage to even put it on the ballot, is the fact that so many people do not trust the county administration that is in place.

So widespread is this distrust that the CPST Commission chairman went to his friend and political ally Larry Greer and told him that in order to have a chance of selling this tax to the people, a financial oversight committee would have to be appointed and an independent auditor hired to assure that the administrator didn’t get his hands on the money. Greer made such a proposal at the last Council meeting.

An additional safeguard may also be sought which would require the administrator by law to leave unchanged the current levels of funding for roads and bridges.

That way, at least, the current transportation budget of approximately $13 million wouldn’t be raided in order to move funds elsewhere. Such a demand is both prudent and a remarkable statement of distrust by the public.

In other words, Mr. Joey Preston and his administration have become a fly in the infrastructure ointment in Anderson County. The growing distrust of Preston’s unique accounting methods, especially as regards credit card expenses, as well as his siege mentality concerning access to public information, is having a real impact on this County’s ability to utilize a funding tool that has proven effective and efficient everywhere it has been used.

Seems to me it’s time to take a hard look at the pluses and minuses concerning the current administration, and see just how they balance out. 

But this time, the people should keep the books.

 

 

 

 

 

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